Critics’ Picks

View of “Kay Rosen,” 2008.

View of “Kay Rosen,” 2008.


Kay Rosen, Koo Jeong-A

Yvon Lambert Bookshop
108, rue Vielle du Temple
December 12, 2008–January 24, 2009

In this gallery’s pairing of Kay Rosen and Koo Jeong-A, body and word are not fixed limits drawn to contain and control, but open architectures whose shifting centers of gravity reveal new ways of being and relating. In Rosen’s wall painting, the word scramble PNUUMLDE evokes physicality with the elicited pummeled and numb. As the viewer’s eyes swing from first to last letters, outside and then in, UM flits between the word’s middle and end, and the jumbled capitals recompose to spell PENDULUM (Pendulum, 2004). In Why Yes Yves, 1993, the V of YVES is painted in superscript to mirror the forked half of Y, thus transforming the French proper noun into the English affirmative reply: YES, YES. Same, 1993, a small red gouache on canvas of the word MEME functions as both question and declaration, inserted between the two paragraphs of the wall painting Oh, Eau, 1989–98, identical but for their punctuation. In an adjoining hall, Koo Jeong-A’s watercolors are arranged on the floor with walkways cleared among them: A seated man sports a shirt rich in a variety of green hues, a dog returns the viewer’s stare, and awkward curves resemble clusters of anthills in Koo’s sublimation of the quotidian. A figure dancing to the twinkling of a star is the only motif repeated. Both the celestial body and its human partner are left unpainted, their perimeters defined by the night sky. In Koo’s visual ballad and Rosen’s linguistic acrobatics, bodies sing with swinging limbs and words feel around their contours for phantom limbs, looking to trace the beginnings of a new language.